April 02, 2007

Green Blog-Winter/Spring 2007

I do think that it's handy to have a garden which can supply kitchen's daily needs of either fresh herbs or vegetables. When you are living in the countryside like I am, one thing you would like to do is to make a list for a whole week. Unfortunately, vegetables and herbs can't stay as fresh as when they have left the stores. I don't really like consuming wilted vegetables or herbs for cooking which have been kept for days in the fridge. Therefore, growing our herbs and vegetables are a must.

Mandira of Ahaar is hosting this event for those who are interested in growing their own herbs or vegetables for their own needs. Even when you are a beginner of gardening, there is always worth getting your hands mingling with earth. Get dirty and look at the results.

I am posting from New Zealand, so this should explain why I have Summer harvests (which we've officially entered Autumn/Fall this month) to those who are puzzled.

I don't really believe on someone being a green thumb or not being a green thumb, but I do believe that plants need care and love as much as we care what to cook and how we love preparing it. Plants need water, good soil, compost, and sunlight. It's all that. That's the care they would mainly need, besides plucking off some weeds when they seem growing alongside your plants. I suggest to pull them off rather than spray them with weeds killer, unless you have huge gorse bushes to kill forever, as they are really nuisance.

We're mostly treating our vegetables and herbs organically, that means pulling off weeds by hand, and forking in sheep or fowl manure taken from the farm (not using commercial fertiliser, so forth). We're just taking the safe side for the family, especially for the children as they are playing a lot of their time in the garden.

I have posted my rustic garlic on Weekend Herbs Blogging hosted by Ed of Tomatom in January and have also written some information about coriander (and parsley) in Bahasa Indonesia on my other Indonesian blog and photo albums FoodnGarden. If you are able read (and either speak) in Bahasa Indonesia, simply read this page.

Coriander [coriandrum sativum] and garlic [allium sativum] play an important role in my kitchen as they are used on daily basis. My family is familiar with Indonesian cooking and is enjoying each introduction I have made for them, except the heat of chillies my hubby and children can't really take it as much as I can. Coriander and garlic are often used in Indonesian cuisine and usually are very much used together in one recipe. I find it really different when I am using fresh ingredients to those I buy from the stores, especially when I grow them myself and I know how I grow them. It's the satisfaction-guaranteed kind of feeling that cannot be compared with already-bought ones.

I bought coriander seeds from a garden centre and preparing seeding mix on a tray. I always dampen my soil before planting the seeds. And here's the seeds growing.

After they opened their third or fourth leaves, then I transplanted them in the open garden. We used mushroom compost when we first cultivated the kitchen garden (it was a large bed of sand and was used for horses by the previous owners), so I reckon it was a good start. Everything is planted will grow well. I don't even worry if they are not survived because at some stage, they will thrive however.

At this time, I won't do anything to them but to give them some liquid manure every three weeks. We use the liquid taken from our little worms farm or alternatively, we soak sheep manure for weeks in a barrel then dripping it into a watering can. When it's too rich we'll dilute it with water, according to the plants' needs. I would pick some coriander leaves for garnish or whenever a recipe calls for it, but mostly I would wait until they are seeding.

When they're flowering, there's the excitement comes. They're attracting bees and also going to bear some little seeds which will then be used to flavor any food I'm cooking. I would pull the whole plants when they are seeding and hang them in the garage (we have an earthen-floor garage) to dry out. When they're dry, I put them in a plastic bag and begin to loosen the seeds off the plants, that way the seeds won't go to the ground. Then, the seeds are ready to use and I transfer them in a container. This year, I've managed to harvest 552g of coriander seeds!

Here's a recipe I first use my coriander seeds I grew myself last Summer.

Tempe Goreng (Fried Tempeh)

Tempe is originated high-protein food from my home country, Indonesia, which is made from soy beans. Tempehs are very cheap in Indonesia, unlike in New Zealand it becomes a luxury to us. We consume organic tempeh from Tonzu.

1 block tempeh, cut into triangles or squares,1 tsp coriander seeds, 3 garlic cloves, peeled, sea salt, 1 tsp tamarind paste, 2 Tbs warm water, oil for frying

Mix coriander seeds, garlic, and sea salt using mortar and pestle (or a blender if you like) until smooth. Squash the tamarind paste in the warm water and mix them with the paste, and add in tempeh. Marinade for 15 minutes. Then fry.

Tempe goreng is usually eaten with sambal kecap (a condiment made from kecap manis, shallots, chillies, and a drizzle of lime juice) or sambal oelek (chillies, shrimp paste, shallots, garlic, sour cherry tomatoes, salt and sugar), or other versions of sambal which are various from any regions in the archipelago. Fried tempeh can also be cooked in sweet chilli sauce together with prawns, tofu, peanuts or dried anchovies. Other version, you can see it on my previous post of fried tempeh in sweet soy sauce last time I made for our little celebration.

Thank you Mandira to host this event. I'm looking forward to seeing what other folks are growing in their garden. It's always fun to me to talk about plants, garden, and gardening. I'm happy to have more acquaintances from such events. I always find some things more to learn from other bloggers.

Stay green!!


Lia said...

*sigh* keenakan tinggal di endonesa yang tinggal jalan ke warung sebelah ajah bisa blanja bumbu eksotis kumplit. baca2 postingan ini jadi brasa gimanaaa gituh loh, brasa kehilangan daya tarik eksotisme bumbu endonesa. kalo udah di LN baru brasa ya Pih, nikmatnya nanem bumbu2 lalu memetiknya dan memasaknya, duh nikmatnyaaaa....

mb said...

Arfi - this looks fabulous. Thank you for participating in Green Blog Project. Enjoy the fall! I'm looking forward to summer which is just around the corner. :)

Arfi Binsted said...

liyah--haduh, dulu boro-boro kenal yang namanya daun ketumbar, wong jadi kenek aja di dapur. begitu married, langsung dihadapkan pada kehidupan yang berbeda, serba mandiri, harus serba kreatif, ya begini ini jadinya, hehehe lebih apresiatif terhadap alam.

Arfi Binsted said...

Mandira-thanks a lot for hosting this kind of event. I do love taking part. Keep up the good work!